Monthly Archives: April 2017

Fyre Festival Head Billy McFarland: 'We Were a Little Naive'

Fyre Festival, the music fest that was supposed to take place over two weekends on a private island in the Bahamas with headliners such as Blink-182, Migos and Major Lazer, collapsed Thursday night in a quagmire of broken sewer pipes and delayed international flights. Guests who paid thousands of dollars for chartered yachts and planes found themselves stranded with no bands, no luggage and, in some cases, no places to stay. 

Music fans have been posting distress signals from the Bahamas via social media for the past 24 hours, with some suggesting they’re unable to leave the island. Festival promoters have so far issued only brief statements, but in an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone, Billy McFarland, the 25-year-old Fyre Fest co-organizer with rapper Ja Rule, gives his regrets, promises refunds and hopes to return for a make-up festival next year.

Today is definitely the toughest day of my life. I’d love the opportunity to go through and tell my story of how we got here and how I see it now and where it’s going.

I was a computer programmer, and after computers, the two things I love most are the ocean and, for some reason, rap music. So these three hobbies of mine somehow led me to meeting my partner, Ja Rule. Together, we became friends and business partners. For us, it was always a battle of pushing the limits. Once we got flying lessons together, we got on these really bad 40-year-old planes and flew from New York to the Bahamas – not really knowing the Bahamas very well – ran out of gas and landed in the Exumas and both of us immediately fell in love.

We started this website and launched this festival marketing campaign. Our festival became a real thing and took [on] a life of its own. Our next step was to book the talent and actually make the music festival. We went out excited, and that’s when a lot of reality and roadblocks hit. 

The Exumas didn’t have a really great infrastructure – there wasn’t a great way to get guests in here – we were a little bit ambitious. There wasn’t water or sewage. It was almost like we tried building a city out of nothing and it took almost all of our personal resources to make this happen, and everything we had, to make this festival go on. We thought we were ready and built two different festival sites. 

The morning of the festival, a bad storm came in and took down half of our tents and busted water pipes. Guests started to arrive and the most basic function we take for granted in the U.S., we realized, “Wow, we can’t do this.” We were on a rush job to fix everything and guests were arriving and that caused check-in to be delayed. We were overwhelmed and just didn’t have the foresight to solve all these problems.

We made sure all guests got a place to stay and had a really long conversation overnight last night after everyone was housed about what to do next and realized we couldn’t risk the safety challenges. So that was the decision that we made — the first thing for us was making sure all these guests get refunded [and] all the vendors get taken care of. All the guests are going home, the refunds are being processed. 

The weather unfortunately delayed flights and made them run into each other in terms of being close to when a lot of people were arriving. That was unfortunately something we had no control of, but it made things unacceptable for guests and we feel bad for it.

We thought we were making timeframes that were correct. We were a little naïve in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves. Next year, we will definitely start earlier. The reality is, we weren’t experienced enough to keep up.

Everybody who wants to go home is being sent home tonight. Some of the guests who are staying in private homes, we’re asking them to stay longer, if they can. We’re going to take every measure to make this right for everybody now, and make this right for everybody next year, on a large scale.

There will be make-up dates, May 2018 in the U.S., free for everybody who signed up for this festival. We will donate $1.50 [per ticket] to the Bahamian Red Cross. It’ll keep the theme of being on water and beach. It’ll be not just music, but all forms of entertainment. The one change we will make is we will not try to do it ourselves. We will make sure there is infrastructure in place to support us.

As told to Steve Knopper

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Fyre Fest Attendee Describes Chaotic Scene: 'It Was Just a Nightmare'

In retrospect, Gunnar Wilmot, who works in New York commercial real estate, should have known something was wrong with the Fyre Festival when organizers in the Bahamas immediately served tequila and rosé. “I think they wanted us to be drunk enough to not complain,” says Wilmot, 28, who arrived at rapper Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland’s festival on a private island in the Bahamas early Thursday morning. “Yesterday was fun. We were just drinking on the beach, until we realized what happened, and it was just a nightmare.”

The entire festival, which promised performances by Blink-182, Migos, Major Lazer, Lil Yachty and “first-class culinary experiences and a luxury atmosphere” for guests who’d paid thousands of dollars for tickets and chartered yachts and planes, collapsed Thursday night in what Wilmot calls “one shitstorm after another.” Wilmot and his three friends, who’d paid $500 apiece for what organizers called “villas,” found themselves in refugee tents. One by one, each of the performers canceled, including Blink-182 last night, announcing in an online statement, “We’re not confident that we would have what we need to give you the quality of performances we always give our fans.”

Wilmot and his friends were relatively lucky. They saw festivalgoers on the grounds, stranded, surrounded by luggage with nowhere to sleep for the night. They watched in horror as festival employees tossed visitors’ bags off a freight truck and “people were just rummaging through them.” They decided to escape early this morning, bathed in the ocean, brushed their teeth with bottled water and paid a festival employee $100 to return them to the airport in a flatbed truck. When they arrived at the airport gate, an official told them they couldn’t access the airport unless they were on one of the two festival school buses – but Wilmot and his friends paid $40 to move past the barricade.

“We were sold on villas with beds and furniture – they had renderings of what it was going to look like. It could not have been more different,” Wilmot says. “The fact that these were the same tents as a refugee camp was a running joke. That’s what it felt like.”

Festival organizers said they “set out to provide a once-in-a-lifetime musical experiences on the Islands of the Exumas” and blamed “circumstances out of our control” for the problems. The festival chaos appears to have backed up the local airports, stranding guests in terrible conditions, including understaffed kitchen tents jammed with random pots of uncooked food, all of which visitors have documented via social media. In a statement, Ja Rule said he was “heartbroken” and insisted Fyre was “not a scam,” adding that his first priority was to make sure stranded festivalgoers could leave the Exumas islands safely.

Some who helped organize the festival took issue with the “out of our control” portion of the festival’s statement. In early March, former Saturday Night Live talent associate Chloe Gordon traveled to the Bahamas to tour the site as a producer hired to work with the talent. “It was about two months out, and it was a mess,” she says, adding that she quit after returning to New York. “They had already, when we got down there, hired and fired two full production teams. And they hadn’t started planning anything. They basically just fired everyone along the way that told them it wasn’t feasible.”

As of Friday afternoon, Wilmot was waiting for his flight to take off, after he spent 25 hours in the Bahamas. He and his friends were the first to arrive at the airport for return U.S. flights, and observed one or two planes, part of one airline, shuttling passengers back and forth. “Everyone’s left [the festival],” he says. “The airport is an absolute zoo.”

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Watch Sean Paul, Migos Head to Carnival in Wild 'Body' Video

Sean Paul takes rap group Migos to a Carnival celebration in Miami for the beach-set video for “Body.” The track is the lead single off Paul’s forthcoming, as-yet-untitled new album.

In the clip, Paul and Migos are surrounded by women wearing lavish, colorful costumes for the celebration. The artists take their many dates around the city and on various yachts and vehicles as the women dance around them.

“This video had to be stylish and sexy,” Sean Paul told The Fader, where the video was premiered. “Migos is one of my favorite rap groups, and it was wicked to have them flowing over a dancehall oriented track, so the video had to translate that energy too. Miami Beach was the obvious choice to capture that vibe.”

Paul’s upcoming LP will be his first since 2014’s Full Frequency. He recently had a Top 10 hit with Clean Bandit and Anne-Marie with the single “Rockabye” and hit Number One early last year with his remix of Sia’s “Cheap Thrills.”

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Ja Rule on Fyre Festival: 'I'm Heartbroken at This Moment'

Ja Rule is “heartbroken” following the disastrous first day of the Fyre Festival, a Bahamas-based luxury music festival that he co-created. The rapper promised to issue refunds to festival-goers. He reiterated that Fyre “was not a scam.”

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Ja Rule said that his first priority is to ensure that the festival attendees who are still stranded in the Exumas are transported safely off the island.

“We are working right now on getting everyone off the island safely; that is my immediate concern,” the rapper said.

For over a thousand dollars per ticket, the high-end music festival promised acts including Blink-182, G.O.O.D. Music and Disclosure at the all-inclusive resort-like getaway. But when attendees gathered at the festival grounds Thursday, they found the area was a garbage-strewn site severely lacking the many amenities promised with admission.

Blink-182 canceled their headlining performance at both Fyre Festival weekends, and festival-goers who were traveling to the island were informed that, because the fest was already overcapacity, they would not continue on to Fyre. Those who did make it to the festival were greeted by feral dogs, shoddy tents, a lack of security or festival employees and meals consisting of cheese and bread.

The festival was ultimately postponed indefinitely, leaving stunned attendees to find transportation back to the U.S.

“I’m heartbroken at this moment,” Ja Rule told Rolling Stone. “My partners and I wanted this to be an amazing event, it was NOT A SCAM as everyone is reporting. I don’t know how everything went so left but I’m working to make it right by making sure everyone is refunded … I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT … but I’m taking responsibility I’m deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this.”

The rapper promised to make another statement at a later time.

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Las Vegas Shines As Stars Unite To Honor Ronald O. Perelman At Keep Memory Alive's 21st Annual Power Of Love® Gala, April 27

On April 27, stars united at Keep Memory Alive’s 21st annual Power of Love® gala to raise funds and awareness for Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and honor Ronald O. PerelmanLAS VEGAS, April 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — On Thursday, April 27, 2017, some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry joined Keep Memory Alive to honor remarkable philanthropist and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MacAndrews & Forbes Incorporated, Ronald O. Perelman,…


Veuve Clicquot Announces The 10th Anniversary Of The Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic Hosted By Neil Patrick Harris With A Live Musical Performance By Alicia Keys On Saturday, June 3, 2017

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Watch Pixies Perform Raucous New Song 'Bel Esprit' on 'Conan'

A week after Pixies kicked off a U.S. tour in support of their 2016 LP Head Carrier, the band visited Conan Thursday to perform “Bel Esprit” form the album. 

The performance showcased the band’s new bassist Paz Lenchantin, who joined the group in place of Kim Deal during the tour for 2014’s Indie Cindy. Lenchantin and Black Francis split lead vocals on the punchy cut from Head Carrier, which marked the bassist’s first studio LP with alt-rock legends. 

“This was feeling very much like our comeback record as opposed to Indie Cindy, which felt like a transitional moment even when we were making it,” Black Francis told Rolling Stone. “This time, we felt like we wanted to get out of our comfort zone.

Pixies’ month-long trek concludes May 26th at New York’s Brooklyn Steel.

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The War on Drugs Plot Expansive Fall Tour

The War on Drugs announced an extensive fall tour with shows in North America and Europe. The 34-date trek launches September 21st in the band’s hometown of Philadelphia and concludes November 27th in Stockholm, Sweden.

General public tickets go on sale Friday, May 5th at 10 a.m. local time via the band’s website. A pre-sale begins Monday, May 1st for North America and Tuesday, May 2nd for U.K. and Europe at 10 a.m.

The indie-rock sextet officially released their psychedelic new single “Thinking of a Place” on Friday, after issuing the 11-minute track as a 12-inch vinyl exclusive for Record Store Day. The song, which follows 2014 LP, Lost in the Dream, previews the band’s upcoming, as-yet-untitled fourth album.

Last year, the War on Drugs contributed a cover version of the Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey,” to Day of the Dead, a massive, 59-song tribute album curated by the National’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner.

The War on Drugs 2017 Tour

September 21 – Philadelphia, PA @ Dell Music Center
September 22 – New York, NY @ SummerStage in Central Park
September 23 – Boston, MA @ Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
September 25 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte
September 26 – Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle
September 28 – Dallas, TX @ The Bomb Factory
September 29 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall [Outside Lawn]
September 30 – Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
October 5 – Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre
October 6 – Berkeley, CA @ Greek Theatre
October 9 – Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre
October 11 – Portland, OR @ Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
October 13 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
October 14 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
October 18 – St. Paul, MN @ Palace Theatre
October 19 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
October 20 – Columbus, OH @ Express Live!
October 21 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall
November 2 – Amsterdam, NL @ AFAS Live
November 3 – Cologne, DE @ E-Werk
November 4 – Brussels, BE @ Forest National
November 6 – Paris, FR @ Bataclan
November 9 – Glasgow, UK @ Barrowlands
November 10 – Glasgow, UK @ Barrowlands
November 12 – Manchester, UK @ O2 Apollo Manchester
November 14 – London, UK @ Alexandra Palace
November 17 – Zurich, CH @ X-tra
November 18 – Milan, IT @ Fabrique
November 20 – München, DE @ Muffathalle
November 21 – Hamburg, DE @ Große Freiheit 36
November 22 – Berlin, DE @ Tempodrom
November 24 – Oslo, NO @ Spektrum
November 25 – Copenhagen, DK @ Tap 1
November 27 – Stockholm, SE @ Annexet

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Watch Diddy, Ma$e, Lil Kim Celebrate Bad Boy Doc With Greatest Hits Medley

Puff Daddy enlisted Bad Boy artists Lil Kim, Faith Evans, Ma$e and R&B singer Carl Thomas to celebrate the world premiere of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story at New York’s Beacon Theatre Thursday night.

Following the screening, the label roster performed a medley of some of their biggest hits, kicking off with a glamorous Lil Kim delivering her verse from the remix of Mobb Deep’s 1999 hit “Quiet Storm.” “Big Momma Thang” did not fare as well, as the vocal backing track – the ghost of Lil Kim past – drowned out the singer’s live vocals. Faith Evans and Carl Thomas appeared next to perform triumphant versions of their signature songs “You Used to Love Me” and “I Wish,” respectively. 

By the time the intro to “Victory” blared over the loudspeakers, the audience, which included Clive Davis, Andre Harrell and Fab 5 Freddy, was Diddy’s to control. After Ma$e appeared, darting around the stage and smiling with a confident insouciance, to perform “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down,” the duo blazed through a mini-medley victory lap that included “Feel So Good,” “All About the Benjamins” and “Mo Money Mo Problems.”

In the documentary, appearing exclusively on Apple Music beginning June 25th, Combs uses a pair of 2016 Bad Boy reunion shows in Brooklyn as a springboard for the slick, Live Nation-produced film about his rise from Uptown Records intern to record-label CEO. Rappers (Nas, Jay Z) and industry vets (Clive Davis, Jimmy Iovine) weigh in, while footage of the intense rehearsals for the show highlight the subject’s blunt, perfectionist vision – he repeatedly tells an engineer to “fix your energy” – that’s frustrated some but entertained many more. 

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Willie Nelson, Gorillaz, Feist and 11 More New Albums to Hear Right Now

Rolling Stone Recommends

Willie Nelson, God’s Problem Child
The 83-year-old American legend takes on mortality with songs that look compassionately at the vagaries of one’s body aging, lifelong friendships and online rumors of his death, as well as a tribute to his former collaborator Merle Haggard, who passed away in 2016. “[Old] age has sharpened Nelson’s focus as a songwriter, providing him with renewed purpose as a lyricist and heightened vulnerability as a vocalist. … God’s Problem Child is a tightly-woven, poignant collection of ruminations on aging and fading faculties that amounts to Nelson’s most moving album in decades,” writes RS‘ Will Hermes.
Read Our Review: Willie Nelson Stares Down Mortality on Most Moving LP in Years
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Gorillaz, Humanz
Damon Albarn’s musical alter ego ruminates on the impending end of the world with an ark’s worth of guests that include Vince Staples, Danny Brown, D.R.A.M., Kelela, and Grace Jones – as well as Albarn’s former Britpop-era sparring partner Noel Gallagher. Humanz, writes RS’ Will Hermes, is “a meta party mix where Jamaica’s Popcaan rocks space-station dancehall beats while Albarn rues dancing alone ‘in a mirrored world,’ selfie stick no doubt in hand.”
Read Our Review: Gorillaz’ ‘Humanz’ Rings in the Apocalypse in Style
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal / Amazon Music Unlimited

Feist, Pleasure
The Canadian singer-songwriter’s first album in six years showcases a sparser, more immediate sound and a guest spot from British raconteur Jarvis Cocker. Pleasure possesses a stark intimacy that can suggest Kate & Anna McGarrigle if they’d been big fans of the Young Marble Giants’ post-punk bedroom mumblings or PJ Harvey’s blues-wrath epistle To Bring You My Love. … These songs build slow as they add instrumental muscle on a skeletal form, arriving at something at once scary and lovely,” writes RS‘ Jon Dolan.
Read Our Review: Feist Steps Into the Dark and Dreamlike on ‘Pleasure’
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal / Amazon Music Unlimited

Colin Stetson, All This I Do for Glory
No one is making a more sweat-soaked, punk-rock response to American minimalism than Colin Stetson, whose three acclaimed New History Warfare albums have raged through hypnotic repetition on the wobbling honk of a bass saxophone. Still growling and blasting in vein-bulging squall, on his fifth solo album, Stetson explores the saxophone’s rhythmic possibilities. The title track has the broken limp of post-dubstep; “Like Wolves on the Fold” is fluttery dancehall; and on “Between Water and Wind” he’s a moist and smacking human Matmos blurping out something like a solo sax version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” Christopher R. Weingarten
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal

Sylvan Esso, What Now
Electronic pop for those who think they dislike electronic pop, as well as those who swear by it. The second LP by recovering old-time folk singer Amelia Meath and fractured-beat craftsman Nick Sanborn is even more self-conscious than their self-titled debut, which turns out to be a good thing. Highlights are the singles “Radio,” which slyly chides a fame-whore singer who might (at least in part) be Meath herself, and “Die Young,” a tribute to synth-pop cliché that rises to meet its role models magnificently. The bounce-castle beats of “Kick Jump Twist,” meanwhile, will make you want to do that. Use it with care. Will Hermes
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal / Amazon Music Unlimited

Les Amazones d’Afrique, République Amazone
The dizzying debut of this 10-member West African supergroup, whose ranks include Grammy-winning diva Angélique Kidjo and Malian jazz legend Mariam Doumbia, is full of expansive, politically charged tracks that envision a future where the beauty and strength of women are celebrated and honored. “African women have been silent for too long,” Kidjo told RS. “Even though we have matriarchal societies in many places in West Africa, men still dominate everything. But the new generation of girls realizes they will never win this battle unless they stick up for themselves.”
Read our Q&A: Les Amazones d’Afrique: Hear the debut LP from West African Supergroup
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Trombone Shorty, Parking Lot Symphony
Crescent City prodigy Troy Andrews hit 30 last year, and his latest shows a healthily omnivorous New Orleans traditionalism. He’s got tight, swaggering takes on Ernie K. Doe’s giddy 1970 single “Here Come The Girls” and the Meters’ disco-funk journey “It Ain’t No Use,” while “Tripped Out Slim” is like a New Orleans re-imagining of Isaac Hayes’ “Theme From Shaft.” But “Dirty Water” and “Familiar,” with its herky-jerk Kendrick-style flow at the outro, fast-forward their funk into more modern territory. This set arrives just after Shorty wrapped a tour leg opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and his band has been hot. Dude knows how to bring a party. Will Hermes
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal / Amazon Music Unlimited

Also of Note:

Mary J. Blige, Strength of a Woman
The R&B legend takes on the unraveling of her 13-year marriage on fiery songs. Guests on the cameo-studded album include the enigmatic Kanye West (on the self-affirming “Love Yourself”), Quavo of Migos, shape-shifting MC/producer Missy Elliott and party-starting social-media superstar DJ Khaled.
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal / Amazon Music Unlimited

John Mellencamp Featuring Carlene Carter, Sad Clowns & Hillbillies
The Indiana-born roots-rocker’s 23rd album – a collaborative effort with Carlene Carter, daughter of June Carter Cash – is a a collection of country songs that celebrates into his down-home past. Martina McBride drops by to add vocals to the nostalgic, slinky “Grandview.”
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal / Amazon Music Unlimited

Cashmere Cat, 9
The debut from this in-demand producer and DJ features appearances by the Weeknd (whose Starboy received a helping hand from the Norwegian knob-twiddler), Selena Gomez, frequent collaborator Ariana Grande (on the tropical-house-tinged ballad “Quit”), and other leading lights of pop.
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal / Amazon Music Unlimited

Mew, Visuals
These Danish alt-prog heroes balance their expansive tendencies with a deft ear for what makes pop songs tick on their seventh album.
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal / Amazon Music Unlimited

Lea Michele, Places
Glee‘s reigning diva returns to her musical-theatre roots on her second album, which showcases her powerful, made-for-Broadway belt on songs like the soaring “Love Is Alive” and the stark ballad “Getaway Car.”
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal / Amazon Music Unlimited

Thurston Moore, Rock N Roll Consciousness
Six years after Sonic Youth’s de facto final gig, Thurston Moore has recorded an album of moody, shreddy guitar rock that evokes his former band’s experimental mid-Eighties Sister era. As with his last solo LP, 2014’s equally Sonic Youth-like The Best Day, Moore’s backing band includes SY drummer Steve Shelley, My Bloody Valentine bassist Deb Googe and Nought guitarist James Sedwards. Of the new LP’s five tracks, the jams “Exalted” and “Turn On” stretch well past the 10-minute mark but never become tiresome, but the real winner here is “Aphrodite,” a funky (or funky for Moore) Krautrock-styled rocker that shows off each musician’s ability to freak out without totally losing the plot. All of that, combined with Moore’s ambiguously poetic lyrics (including some by British poet Radieux Radio), makes for an album that could just as easily have come from the band that made him famous. Kory Grow
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal / Amazon Music Unlimited

Old Crow Medicine Show, 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde
In May 2016, this scrappy Americana act celebrated the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan’s iconic album Blonde on Blonde with a full-album cover show at Nashville’s CMA Theater. This record shows how the band turned Bob’s vision in their own. “I think we found out pretty quick that only Bob can do it the way he recorded it,” guitarist Christopher Fuqua told RS. “If we did it like Bob, it would be boring.”
Read Our Q&A: How Old Crow Medicine Show Reimagined Bob Dylan’s ‘Blonde on Blonde’
Hear: Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal / Amazon Music Unlimited

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